RIYADH: Riyadh has an “open channel” with Yemen’s Iran-backed militia with the goal of ending the country’s civil war, a Saudi official said Wednesday.
The comment comes after Saudi Arabia brokered a power-sharing agreement between Yemen’s internationally recognized government and southern separatists, which observers say could pave the way for a wider peace deal.
“We have had an open channel with the Houthis since 2016. We are continuing these communications to support peace in Yemen,” a senior Saudi official told reporters. “We don’t close our doors with the Houthis.”
The official, who declined to be named, did not describe the nature of the communication.
There was no immediate comment from the Houthis, who seized the capital Sanaa and much of northern Yemen in 2014.
Washington too is in talks with the Houthis, Assistant Secretary of Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker said during a visit to Saudi Arabia in September.
Wednesday’s confirmation comes amid the slow implementation of a landmark ceasefire deal for the key aid port of Hodeida, which was agreed between the government and the militia in Sweden late last year.
“If the Houthis (are) serious to de-escalate and agree to come to the table, Saudi Arabia will support their demand and support all political parties to reach a political solution,” the Saudi official said.